Performing a magic show is when you will either make or break yourself as a magician. What the audience doesn't realise is the amount of preparation involved in planning the show. This series of articles will go through the process I use for creating the best possible routine for each different demographic.
There are various demographics that you will be performing to, most likely children (which can be split up into boys, girls or mixed), adults (split up into age groups, personalities, points of view etc. . . ) It is essential to plan your show to entertain the group of people you are performing to – it is obvious that performing a children's party to a group of adults around a table will not go down well, but there are plenty of other factors that often go unnoticed.
Personalities of adults is often ignored – you should be able to match your show to their personality and the kind of place you are performing in. Younger adults tend to be receptive to more humorous tricks potentially with less politically-correct content. Taking a stereo-typical view, elderly people wouldn't be so likely to be as receptive. Being flexible and able to adapt on the spot is important. You can perform the same routine to different groups (although I'd not advise it) but change the patter and performance to leave the audience feeling completely different. To do this, you will most likely need to prepare several presentations/patters for each trick you do, then after gently ‘probing’ the audience, you can pick a patter for them. This is similar for entertaining children – patters about football won't go down too well in an all-girl audience, similarly pink props may not be too popular for boys!
Another important factor is formality. If you are employed as a table-hopper in a ‘classy’ restaurant, then you will most likely want to present yourself as a ‘classy’ magician, which will include everything from the clothes you wear, to how you approach the audience and which tricks and presentations you use. However, if you are entertaining a group of friends around a table, then an informal ad-hoc presentation often feels more down-to-earth and personal.
Finally it is important that your personality fits the style in which you have decided to perform. No matter how well you practice, your personality is a key aspect of your performance. If you are not naturally a comedian, don't try to be – it may work for 90% of the time, but when something goes wrong, you will go bright-red and may not be able to recover in a confident humorous way!
Edward Jellard has been performing professional magic for many years. His repertoire includes stage magic, children's entertaining and close-up table hopping.
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